Whosoever wishes (Quicumque vult) to edit Wikipedia productively and happily, shall rely on these principles.
- Content, Content, Content.
- Assume the best.
- Is it good for the encyclopedia?
- It's a hobby!
Content, Content, Content
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia; and encyclopedias are collections of knowledge. Like any other encyclopedia in the world, Wikipedia is only as good as its content. Everything else that we do here - from wikiprojects to arbitration, from talk pages to administration - is designed to serve the content in one of three ways: the quality of content, the quantity of content, and the accessibility of content. There are a variety of editing styles among wikipedia editors, largely resulting from placing emphasis on a different one of those three principles (for example, an inclusionist would emphasize quantity of content, while an exclusionist would emphasize quality of the content. However, at the end of the day all productive editors share the same underlying concern: content. Remembering the importance of content - in a variety of expressions - minimizes some of the pettier disputes about editing style. By corollary, the day that the editors of wikipedia forget about the priority of content is the day that wikipedia ceases to serve a discernable purpose.
Assume the best
The fact that almost every major ethical system has some form of the Golden Rule implies that we have real trouble with this idea. No one would have to tell us to treat one another well if we were already doing it, but again and again we receive some sort of reminder to treat others as we would be treated - which is the essence behind the advice to assume good faith. Especially in somewhat disconnected digital communication, it is very easy to assume the worst about those with whom we come in conflict. However, any effort to work in concert with others and be a part of a community demands that we assume the best about the people we come into contact with, and wikipedia is no different.
Is it good for the encyclopedia?
We can debate policy all day long. We can bicker over deletion policies, inclusion policies, and administrative qualifications until the cows come home. But, when push comes to shove, the only question that matters is "Is it good for the encyclopedia?" That is the question that the policies are intended to help us to answer, and when they don't they should be ignored. (see also "Content, Content, Content").
It's a hobby
There are no professional wikipedia editors. This is a hobby. Hobbies should be fun. We quit when hobbies stop being enjoyable. Don't be afraid to walk away from conflict, and don't take yourself so seriously. This is fun, people!